This church in Indiana is buying a strip club

A church in Indiana is planning to purchase a strip joint by the end of the month, less than a year after the church moved in next door to the club.

The Lafayette Community Church hopes to convert Filly's Gentlemen's Club into a community center that will provide recreation opportunities and resources to nearby neighborhoods.

Tona Biddle, who co-owns Filly's with her father, Ed Gobel, said the club will not be relocating, although the affiliated Fantasy Adult Gift Shop will reopen elsewhere.

After 26 years of operation, Biddle said it is just time to close.

"We've been talking about it for a while," she said. "It's time we move on. ... I'm really busy and my dad is just getting to that age; he's 75."

The hardest part of moving on will be all the people Biddle and Gobel have to say goodbye to, she said.

"The staff was wonderful. They've been with us for 20 years. The dancers are great, I tell you what, and they've been with us for years, too," she added.

Jeff Mikels, the pastor at Lafayette Community Church, said the Filly's owners recently approached the church about buying the next door property.

"They made us a very gracious offer," Mikels said.

And he definitely appreciates the humor of a church purchasing a strip club.

"I like to phrase things a certain way and tell people our church is buying a strip club and then watch what they do with their eyes. Then I tell them we won't be operating it."

Other churches will collaborate with Lafayette Community Church in developing the community center and also financing it, according to Mikels.

He added there are numerous possibilities for the space. Some options include developing a banquet or event space, an indoor play area, a computer lab, recording studio and meeting spaces.

"We're trying to come up with something that really blesses the neighborhood," Mikels said.

Follow Emma Ea Ambrose on Twitter: @emma_ea_ambrose

USA TODAY


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